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Sustainable U

Centre for Interactive Research on SustainabilityWant to help save the planet? A career in engineering might be what you’re looking for. The University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, recently opened North America’s most sustainable building. The Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability uses wood destroyed by mountain pine beetles, draws power from the sun, and recycles rainwater for drinking.

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World’s Greenest Office Building?

To get a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) platinum certificate, a building must cut energy use to about half that of a typical structure. That’s tough. What’s tougher? The Living Building Challenge (LBC).

According to Time magazine, the LBC was created six years ago, and to win certification a building must use half the energy of a LEED platinum building and have net-zero energy and water systems. So far, only three buildings have managed that feat, and they’re quite small. However, a six-story, 4,600-square-meter office building will open this fall in Seattle that’s aiming to meet the LBC requirements.

The $30 million Bullitt Center will house the Bullitt Foundation, whose president is Denis Hayes, a former staff director who worked with Earth Day founder Former U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson.

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Student Inventors: Manu Sharma

Manu Sharma and his innovative wind turbine

Ever dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur? If so, you’re in good company – over half of U.S. millennials (ages 18 to 34) say they want to start a business or already have done so, according to a recent survey from the Kaufmann Foundation. Even more exciting is the fact that nowadays, starting a business does not necessitate leaving school, as more and more universities are striving to accommodate entrepreneurial students.

In this new eGFI blog series, we bring you four inspiring stories of undergraduate engineering students who have successfully patented their original ideas, teamed up with classmates and professors to launch businesses, and navigated the startup world, all while keeping up with their coursework.

So step aside, Bill Gates – the days of dropout turned entrepreneur may be numbered.

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The Next Generation of Urban Cars

City driving is often a hassle, but recent developments in compact car design could make navigating urban gridlock significantly more tolerable. The next wave of electric vehicles will be sleek, energy-efficient, and small enough to make the Smart Car look like a gas-guzzling giant.

The Hiriko is a 100% electric vehicle that has the ability to fold itself up and squeeze into the tiniest parking spaces. Based on the City Car, a design developed a few years back at MIT (with the help of eGFI trailblazer Will Lark Jr.), the Hiriko has about a 60-mile range, four-wheel drive, and a nifty windshield that swings upward to allow passengers to enter and exit.

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Power Up on the Floor

Anyone who’s ever worked up a sweat running for the school bus knows it takes energy to move. Now, a young inventor in England has come up with a way to capture the ambient kinetic energy of footsteps–or dance moves–and use it to generate electricity.

Pavegen tiles are rubber, waterproof squares made from recycled tires, and 80 percent of their inner workings are made from recycled materials, too. When people step on them, the tiles harvest the energy and convert it to electricity.

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